THIEVES stole 100 books from an old fashioned red phone box which Gwent villagers had converted into their own honesty library.

Coed-y-Paen community council paid BT £1 for the box, installed shelves and filled it with around 100 books donated by villagers as they do not have a library or a bus service to get to one.

But thieves cleaned out the phone box in the middle of the night, stealing all the books - except one, Alan Titchmarsh's autobiography Trowel and Error.

Hilary Jones, 47, a member of Coed-y-Paen's residents' association, said: "Why would anybody need to do that? There's no point to it."

After buying the unused phone box at the end of last year, the idea was pitched to turn it into a mini-library. Mrs Jones' husband Mark fitted the shelves, which were stocked with donated books, and the library opened at the beginning of June.

Villagers were able to take books as and when they liked, with simply a sign asking them to return them when they were finished and keep the door closed.

But thieves struck last weekend and cleaned the phone box out - a church warden walked past the phone box at around 11.15pm on August 26 and saw the books were still there, but they had been taken by 8.15am on August 27.

Mrs Jones said: "We were really pleased it was getting used, it's always nice to do something that everybody thinks is a good idea. I think the whole village has been saddened by this theft but we are restocking our shelves at the moment, we won't be put off by this."

The villagers are currently refilling the shelves and have around 25 books so far.

Gwent Police are investigating the theft and asking anyone with information to call 101.

BLOB: Anyone who can donate books to help restock the library is asked to call Coed-y-Paen community councillor Graham Rogers on 01291 672 170.